News for Immediate Release
Dec. 11, 2020
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]
USFS cited input from sportsmen and women as reason for change in course
MISSOULA, Mont. – In a win for public access and public lands hunters and anglers, the U.S. Forest Service has removed sections of prime public lands elk habitat from a land swap in the Crazy Mountains in response to input provided by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members and others.
The concerns raised by hunters and anglers were specifically acknowledged by Custer Gallatin National Forest supervisor Mary Erickson as the reasoning for the removal of those sections in the USFS draft decision released yesterday.
“What the public stood to lose here is the epitome of quality public land elk hunting habitat,” said John Sullivan, board chair for the Montana chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “We commend the Forest Service for listening to the overwhelming number of comments submitted by public land owners and for deciding to drop these sections from the prosed swap.”
In October 2019, the Montana chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers submitted lengthy comments outlining the chapter’s concerns with the South Crazy Mountain Land Exchange, also asking BHA members to get involved. MT BHA sent three statewide action alerts to members and supporters encouraging them to speak up. The chapter circulated a video, viewed more than 1,000 times, explaining the issue and the need to comment.
“We understand the challenges of managing the Crazy Mountains with inholdings of private land and public access disputes,” said Sullivan. “And we’re pleased to see that two thirds of the trade – the roughly 1,900 acres of difficult-to-access public lands in exchange for some 1,900 acres of private inholdings – is still advancing. This will help consolidate public and private lands in the mountain range known for its checkerboarded and long-disputed access issues.”
MT BHA members made a significant impact that led to the desired outcome in this proposal, which now enters a 45-day objection period. While the controversial components of this swap are removed for now, a chance remains that the parcels at issue still could be traded away.
“BHA members need to stay vigilant and let our views be known,” Sullivan concluded. “This is just one of many ongoing Crazy Mountain access disputes and land swap proposals in which Montana BHA is engaged.”
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